One of the best ways to study history is through the lives of the people who lived it. As Charlotte Mason put it:
Let him, on the contrary, linger pleasantly over the history of a single man, a short period, until he thinks the thoughts of that man, is at home in the ways of that period. Though he is reading and thinking of the lifetime of a single man, he is really getting intimately acquainted with the history of a whole nation for a whole age.
from Home Education, Vol. 1 Part XVIII.–History, p.280
Over the years we have spent a great deal of time in our homeschool reading about the lives of all sorts of people. Today I want to share some of my kids’ favorite biographies.
Great Kids’ Biographies for Studying History
Archimedes and the Door of Science We used this book as part of a year of scientists. Our youngest is an inventor at heart and he adored reading about scientists and learning science through history and biographies. Archimedes introduces readers to simple machines and measuring the volume of an irregular object through stories.
Daniel Boone Young Hunter and Tracker This is one of our family’s favorite biographies. We have good memories of reading this one aloud together. Daniel Boone was a boy who loved the outdoors and he learned to hunt and track with excellence. He led many settlers into the wilderness safely. Readers get to experience what it was like to live early in our country’s history and to live alongside Native Americans.
Betsy Ross Designer of Our Flag Another family favorite, Betsy Ross is the story of a girl who loved to sew. Our daughter loves the story for this fact alone and of course, Betsy is credited with designing the first United States flag. We enjoyed visiting the Betsy Ross house in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and visiting some of the places name in the book.
Thomas Edison Young Inventor Tom Edison is a wonderful man to study if you have a child who loves to think and invent. Tom’s adventures as a kid are fun to read about and his tenacity is admirable. I love to share with my kids different sorts of learners and Tom was certainly unique.
Neil Armstrong Young Flyer If you have a fan of airplanes and flight, then this biography is for you! Not only did Mr. Armstrong have a substantial aviation career, but we all know he was one of the first in space flight to land on the moon.
Ways We’ve Used Biographies
Since we often use unit studies as a curriculum, biographies provide a wonderful foundation for history studies. Enjoy a selection of ideas on using biographies in your homeschool.
You can even combine geography studies with biographies! In this Geography Quest, readers learn about the Pennsylvania wilderness along with the wilderness trail. Daniel Boone was an excellent hunter and tracker who led many people to places in the wilderness. Also, in this post is a nice video and suggestions for more Daniel Boone biographies.
This is an older post from when my 15 year old daughter was ten. Though they are fictional characters, we did a lot of history studies using American Girl dolls. Felicity is one of her favorites and this particular lesson focused on sewing. Rebecca is a long time sewing student who still uses sewing in her school as a high schooler. In this simple lesson we talked about what it meant to sew 20 stitches to the inch by hand. She measured an inch and drew the line then tried to hand sew that way. Then we compared that to a sewing machine stitch. This was an excellent math lesson in addition to incorporating sewing into other subjects.
This is an in depth description of how to use biographies of scientists to teach science. How do you do it? What do you need to get started? Why teach science this way?